Danielle Brown: From Paralympic Champion to award-winning author

Danielle Brown, a successful archer and author.


Danielle Brown’s last major archery tournament was the 2015 World Archery Championships in Copenhagen.

Since then, the (retired) British archer has gone on to publish three children’s books, one of them award-winning. It’s a very different life to that of a professional athlete.

“In archery, to get good, it is a game of repetition,” says Brown. “Instead of doing the same thing, repeatedly, now every day is different. In [school] terms, it gets busy with events and I’m packing in writing where I can, working to tight deadlines.”

“I’m really enjoying the variety of it.”

In July 2008, Dani was preparing for the biggest tournament of her life, the 2008 Paralympic Games.

One month later, she had the gold medal wrapped around her neck in Beijing, winning the most coveted prize in para archery.

She would go on to compete numerous times for both the British para and able-bodied international archery teams, winning team gold at the Commonwealth Games in 2010, collecting three Hyundai Archery World Cup podiums and a second Paralympic title – on home soil – at London 2012.

Danielle Brown at London 2012 Paralympics.

The International Paralympic Committee issued an overhaul of the classification rules in 2014 and Dani’s condition, complex regional pain syndrome, meant she was no longer eligible to compete in para events.

She began preparing for life after sport.

Her decision to become a children’s author came after a research project that saw her investigate how other influential female figures in Great Britain became successful.

“I was expecting them to say things like ‘determination’, ‘ambition’ and ‘confidence’, but it really surprised me because every single one of them said, ‘I had a really good family’, ‘I was supported’, or ‘I had a good teacher’,” she says.

“It was all about having that role model when they were younger.”

Brown’s three books – Be Your Best Self, Girls Rule and Run Like Girlall focus on spotlighting female icons from around the world while breaking ceilings and fighting for gender equity.

The latter, Run Like Girl, won the 2022 Sunday Times Children’s Book Award and will be reissued this year.

Danielle Brown with one of her books.

The unequivocal goal is to inspire young girls to achieve more. 

“That’s why I write the books I do. It’s about creating stories, showcasing role models so people can look at that and think, ‘you know, if they could do it, I can’,” says Brown. 

“Seeing the barriers they faced and how they overcame them.”

Dani dedicates her perseverance and character – as an athlete, and in her career since retiring from the sports field – to the upbringing she had as a child.

It was her parents who urged her to strive for greatness in the face of adversity.

“I know loads of adults turn around to kids and say, ‘there’s no such thing as can’t’. My parents took that to extremes,” she says.

“It wasn’t allowed in my vocabulary at all.”

“It really helped. Because it’s been so hard-wired into me, I’m always looking for solutions, even now in my 30s.”

Danielle Brown teaching young archers.

As well as writing, Brown now spends much of her time public speaking, encouraging young people to break the glass ceilings in their own environments. She’s partnered with several national literacy trusts in Great Britain, working with children in deprived areas on how to use their voices to make a difference.

“It’s the confidence to know they can achieve anything, that there are no limits and it’s about dreaming big,” she says. “Following that passion and not listening to people who say, ‘you can’t do that’.”

For someone who achieved so much as an athlete on the archery range, her impact since departing the line is arguably even greater.

“It’s not telling people what they should do,” she continues. “It’s not telling people how they should act or behave, but I want to provide a range of role models that they can tap into.”

Brown’s journey, through a law degree at Leicester University and two Paralympic titles until pen finally went to paper, has been as winding as it has been impressive. And now, in this second life, she’s thriving – as an author, an activist, and an inspiration for young people around the world.